Monday, December 13th, 2021 at 4:31am by Jason, BZPower Reporter
We return with another Monkie Kid set review. Today the focus is on 80031 Mei's Dragon Car, featuring her cool new ride in this set. Is this set worth becoming part of your horde or shall it be sent to the scrap yard? Read on to check out BZPower Reporter Xccj's review of it. Or check out the abbreviated review on BZPower's Instagram.
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
The front of the box shows the chase in progress, featuring all the figs in the set and the vehicles riding through the dunes outside of the city. The fancy rings seem to be the collectibles for this wave, and they're featured in the upper right corner, while the lower right showcases the four figs. The back of the box shows the typical alt views of the set and some of the action features. (OMG the wind screen pops up, I had no idea!) Inside the box are three bags, an instruction booklet, and a sticker sheet.
The set will be released in North America in January and will go for $49.99 USD and contains 456 pieces. LEGO was kind enough to provide this set to us early to do a review on it. Per usual, the thoughts and options expressed here are purely my own. (I mean, I guess if I'm being mind controlled by an evil Monkey then these thoughts would technically be theirs, but they probably wouldn't admit to the mind control at this point so I'm satisfied to say they are indeed my own. Thank you for following this tangent.)
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
What kinds of interesting pieces are included with the set? What are the minifigures like?
456 pieces is a bit low for a $49.99 set, but it's not terrible. (The Monkie Kid branding is just that powerful, 'eh.) The car provides a lot of nice elements in teal and white and trans bright green, with the evil monkey bike bringing in some red and trans purple. Speaking of colors, there is the new lime green color that a few pieces come in, including Mei's torso. It's a shade lighter than regular lime; I don't quite know why it's being introduced but it's here.
There are a few notable elements in this batch. We get two different types of the new flame piece in trans orange and trans purple, and they have a clip on the end to attack to rings or other bar elements. The new 2x6 spring loaded launcher and accompanying blaster element are new and suitably beefy. The modified plate with bars on both ends is also new; we've seen a variation that has two studs but this only has one stud. There are plenty of other neat elements included, which are probably rare. (I didn't do as much research on the rarity of each recolor, sorry.) But overall, a nice selection.
Four figs are included, with Monkie Kid and Mei against the evil monkeys Rumble and Savage. Monkie Kid has his standard look from most of his previous iterations, although this time he's wearing a new sash. He's got a lot of accessories to carry; in addition to his Monkey King staff, he has the new scroll design with a map on it, a compass, and hopefully the golden ring with the trans orange flame. (I do not know the story significance of these rings, although I've been told they probably have to do with Nezha.) Mei shows up in a new uniform with fancy printing on it and the new lime color makes her stand out. Did she get a power up or just a wardrobe change? This time she does not have a fancy helmet; I guess she doesn't need it inside her car. She carries a sword with a white dragon handle, which is her standard weapon.
Rumble and Savage are twins. Well, maybe not in the story but they are made of the same parts. (The head doesn't even have two sides to give them different expressions.) The biggest difference is their weapons; one carries a pike while the other carries a flail. I'm sure they're mostly just minions who work for Evil Macaque, which is a standard we've come to expect from Ninjago's filler villains who still get unique names but no story importance. Still, they come with cool armor, nice hair pieces, and evil themed torsos that they'll make for good army builders.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
Monkie Kid does get his own vehicle here, which is a supped-up skateboard. It has handles on the side and thicker wheels and even a monkey magic powered engine, if the cloud element is anything to go by. A very simple design that wouldn't look out of place in a polybag. But, hey, it works.
Next up is Rumble's motorcycle. (Or is it Savage's?) The design is actually reminiscent of the motorcycle design from Ninjago's 70640 S.O.G. Headquarters from 2018. The front of the bike has a more technic build held up by a click-hinge, allowing a blockier body design for the rear end. Yes, this design is only a minor update from the Ninjago bike, but it was such a good design that I don't mind the reuse here, and the red and trans purple go together really well. The back end is a bit odd with the vent pipes splayed out in all directions, but the attachment method for the purple flames is inspiring, using the stud with bar piece attached to the end of the pipe. There's plenty of room for the evil Monkey to sit on the top and drive around at breakneck speeds. (He should really be wearing a helmet; I get he's an evil Monkey but safety first!)
The main attraction is Mei's Dragon Car, which takes 3/4s of the pieces. It's a fun design with some nice texturing and color blocking that's reminiscent of Mei's previous vehicles. The biggest standout is the dragon head on the front, which has a nice brick-built design that wouldn't look out of place as the head of a Ninjago dragon. It's not perfect though; the green swords are attached to clips attached to other clips, so the connection is very loose and fragile, meaning that the pieces pop off quite easily. The repeated use of the slopes down the neck does give it a nice scale texture, and the design is repeated on the back of the cockpit to tie the whole vehicle together. The cockpit also has some nice angled side panels to give it a more streamline look. What is a bit clunkier are the dragon's arms that reach over the front wheels, which leave a lot of opened space. The new lime color is a nice highlight here, but it's a bit disappointing that this is the only place it's a highlight; it might've been better to use more of it elsewhere on the far, or just drop it entirely and stick with white and teal.
Mei fits comfortably inside the cockpit, which has a fancy seat designed for her to lean back on. Instead of a steering wheel, this car is controlled by a gamepad, a neat idea. There is a clip beneath the dragon arms where Mei can store her sword while driving; very convenient.
In the end, while this perhaps isn't the greatest vehicle in LEGO history, it still makes for a nice themed car. The dragon motif is clearly apparent and fits in with Mei's fleet of previously released vehicles.
The other half of the fun is in playing with the set. How well does the set function and is it enjoyable to play with?
You get four characters and three vehicles, so there's a fair amount of playability that can be involved here. The evil Monkey bike is a bit outclassed by the Dragon Car, but I think it holds up well enough on its own that it could make for an interesting racing opponent. The skateboard is less intimidating, but I guess it means Monkie Kid isn't completely left in the dust as the chase starts.
The spring-loaded launcher is the main play feature. It's built underneath the dragon head, which rests on a pin. The head is properly trapped so there's very little movement with it. When you push down on the back, it pushes the spring launcher's trigger forward and shoots out the launcher. One issue is that the spring-loaded launcher is on a hair trigger, and the limited motion means that it's very easy to lightly tap the head and invertedly launch the bolt. I know a lot of LEGO launchers are easy to set off, but this one seems particularly sensitive. I'll be interested to see how other sets handle this function and if they end up having similar issues. The bolt itself doesn't end in a bar connection, but you can clip things to the side of it. Another thing; when it does launch, the bolt fires off with more force than some of the other spring-loaded launchers that we've become use to; this seems surprising. It's not enough to do much damage over a distance, but close up I could see it being more of a hazard.
Also, it's a car, and the wheels spin. They do on the motorcycle and skateboard too! Sometimes the basic pleasure of driving these things around on the floor gets lost in the details of these reviews, but that's totally something that these can do and is a big benefit to playing with them. The chase is on!
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
New and rare pieces
Good figs to represent the theme
Motorcycle is a fun design
Dragon Car has nice textures and color scheme
Dragon head design is the best
What's not to like?
Rumble and Savage are identical
Motorcycle idea mostly reused from earlier Ninjago design
Spring loaded launch mechanism very sensitive
Not enough use of the new lime color
Sword ears on the dragon head have a fragile connection
The Dragon Car has some nice visual features from the sloped panels to the dragon head, making it a suitable vehicle for Mei to drive around. The Evil Monkey bike isn't too bad either. The four figs are fun and represent the Monkie Kid theme well. And from a builder's perspective, the pieces are pretty nice too, with a fair amount of new and interesting elements. $49.99 isn't exactly an impulse price, but this set would be a satisfying purchase and a great way to get into the Monkie Kid theme.
Thanks for reading or watching the review. Stay tuned to BZPower for more LEGO set reviews!